Bio

My acquaintance with jazz and blues began in the early 1940s when I was just entering my teens. I continued avidly following it through that decade and the next and through my years as a professor of Greek and Latin languages and literature and ancient history in the 1960s.

In the early 1970s, having departed the academic life, I commenced a fifteen-year presence on public radio, hosting my jazz shows, “I Thought I Heard Buddy Bolden Say…” and “Since Minton’s”, in Washington, D.C. By the mid-70s I was writing for JazzTimes, eventually becoming its editor, 1988-90, and in 1978 I commenced nearly a decade as the jazz critic for The Washington Post. I have also occasionally contributed to Down Beat and other jazz magazines.

I edited Jazz Notes, the quarterly publication of the Jazz Journalists Association, from 1992 to 2001 and am a regular contributor to Jazzhouse.org, the organization’s website. My byline has appeared on a hundred or so LP and CD liner notes for prominent artists across the spectrum of jazz from the New Black Eagle Jazz Band to Lionel Hampton to Count Basie to Sun Ra to Jaki Byard to David Murray to Ingrid Jensen.

My The Jazz Scene: An Informal History from New Orleans to 1990 was published by Oxford University Press in 1991. Two more of my collections of jazz (and a few blues) profiles were published by Oxford, Living the Jazz Life: Conversations with Forty Musicians about Their Careers in Jazz, in 2000, and Growing Up With Jazz: Twenty-Four Musicians Talk About Their Lives and Careers, in 2005. Swing Era New York: The Jazz Photographs of Charles Peterson was published by Temple University Press in 1994. They are all still available. I am currently at work on a memoir and a fourth collection of profiles. A paperback reprint of Growing Up With Jazz was published in the fall of 2008. A second volume of photographs by Charles Peterson is seeking a publisher.

–WRS
January 2009

(Photo: (c) Amy Stokes.)